Jaylen Brown speaks out against Kyrie Irving’s suspension: ‘It was a violation of our CBA’
Nearly five months ago, then-Brooklyn Nets member Kyrie Irving was suspended for eight games because the Nets had a “failure to deny anti-Semitism” and ultimately behaved detrimentally to the team.
To most people, the reasons for Irving’s suspension were obvious at the time and remain justified in retrospect. Boston Celtics All-Star Jaylen Brown, Irving’s former teammate who serves as the NBPA’s vice president, is not one of those people.
From Logan Murdock of The Ringer:
Brown tells me that he still thinks Irving’s punishment was unfair, not because he agrees with the film’s content, but because the suspension violated the collective agreement.
“That’s my job as vice president of the union,” Brown says. “The union is meant to be an entity that protects players, especially their rights and their freedom of expression. I think what the Brooklyn Nets did – I still think the same way – it was inappropriate. I think it was like a public almost ransom note in a sense where he had a list of demands he had to meet to get back in the game. It was a violation of our CBA. It’s a breach of our agreement and somehow got overlooked as if it were nothing. “
The list of requirements Brown is referring to were the six requirements (listed below) issued by the Nets that Irving had to meet before he was allowed to return to the team.
- Apologize and condemn the film he promoted
- Make a $500,000 donation to anti-hate efforts
- Complete sensitivity training
- Complete Antisemitism Training
- Meet with the ADL and Jewish leaders
- Meet with team owner Joe Tsai to show you understand the situation
Brown comparing this to a “ransom note” is a wild stretch, but I suppose that’s a matter of opinion. However, Brown’s claim that the Nets’ suspension of Irving was primarily a violation of the league’s CBA can be traced directly against CBA language, which you’ll find cited below. It doesn’t appear that Brown’s claim is valid.
(b) The Player agrees: (i) to render his best service and loyalty to the Team and to play basketball only for the Team and its designees; (ii) be neatly and fully dressed in public; (iii) behave on and off the pitch with the highest standards of honesty, citizenship and sportsmanship; and (iv) not to do anything that materially harms or adversely affects the best interests of the team or the league.
(c) For any violation of the Team Rules, any breach of any provision of this Agreement, or for any conduct that interferes with the player’s faithful and diligent performance of his or her duties, the Team may impose reasonable fines and/or suspensions on the player in accordance with the Terms of the CBA.
This is pretty clear that a team has the right to suspend and/or fine a player if he “does anything that is materially prejudicial or materially prejudicial to the best interests of the team or the league”.
So the question arises whether Irving’s behavior can reasonably be considered harmful. It has nothing to do with Irving’s freedom of speech, as Brown claims. Freedom of expression does not mean impunity.
Irving’s suspension, as you will probably recall, resulted from his social media promotion of a film that was widely described as anti-Semitic, which Irving later admitted contained “some false anti-Semitic statements, narrative and language that were untrue and.” were offensive to the Jewish race/religion and I accept full accountability and responsibility for my actions.”
The problem, as the Nets saw it, was that Irving’s admission was part of an apology posted to his Instagram account that should have come sooner. About four hours before the apology post, Irving was given ample opportunity to apologize and/or denounce anti-Semitism in a post-workout media session, but he refused to do so.
“We were dismayed today when we were given the opportunity in a media session that Kyrie refused to state unequivocally that he has no anti-Semitic beliefs, nor to acknowledge certain hateful material in the film. This wasn’t the first time he’s had the opportunity – but failed – to clarify,” the Nets said in a statement at the time.
“Such a failure to reject anti-Semitism when given a clear opportunity to do so is deeply troubling, violates our organization’s values and constitutes behavior that is detrimental to the team,” the statement continued. “Accordingly, we believe that [Irving] is not currently fit to be associated with the Brooklyn Nets.”
It could easily be argued that Irving’s promotion of an anti-Semitic film alone would qualify as harmful behavior, not to mention his defensive demeanor and complete refusal to simply say “no” when specifically asked if he was during the above said media session held anti-Semitic beliefs which ultimately led to his suspension.
Perhaps that’s why the NBPA didn’t take legal action against Irving’s suspension. Or maybe there is a plan to do so at some point. For now, all we know is that Brown doesn’t agree with the way it happened, and while he’s made it clear that he disagrees with the plot of the film that Irving promoted, he balks not himself to support his former teammate.
https://www.cbssports.com/nba/news/jaylen-brown-speaks-out-against-kyrie-irvings-suspension-it-was-a-violation-of-our-cba/ Jaylen Brown speaks out against Kyrie Irving’s suspension: ‘It was a violation of our CBA’